10 Warning Signs That A Recruiter Is Not Right For You


Forbes Coaches Council

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

There are many pros and cons of working with a recruiter when it comes to landing your next job, but one thing to understand is that not every recruiter is right for you.

To help you decide whether to work with a recruiter, consider the advice below from members of Forbes Coaches Council.

From left to right: Joanne Meehl, Mo Chanmugham, Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Yuri Kruman, Dina Simon, Mary Legakis Engel, Adrienne Tom, Mark S. Babbit, Gia Ganesh, Anne Marie Segal. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Ask What They Really Know About The Company

Go into this knowing the recruiter does not work for you the candidate, but for their client company. With that in mind, ask the recruiter about their relationship with the company. How long have they been working with them, and what have been their successes there, their influence there? Avoid the recruiter who can’t answer; this means they have little knowledge or influence. - Joanne MeehlJoanne Meehl Career Services, LLC

2. Stay Away From The Overpromiser

A good recruiter will manage your expectations by being honest about how quickly they can find a position for you. If your recruiter only tells you how great the job market is and how many open jobs they have to fill, then you can be sure that they are not giving you the whole picture. And you should ask if they have employers who are looking for someone with your particular experience. - Mo Chanmugham, Esq., CPCCMGC Coaching

3. Focus On Retained Vs. Contingency Recruiters

Contingency recruiters only get paid when their candidate is hired. Retained recruiters generally have stronger relationships with their client companies based on the monthly retainer they receive. Your best bet is to build connections with the latter and overlook the former. Recruiters who don't take the time to get to know you aren't worth your time to pursue. - Cheryl Lynch SimpsonExecutive Resume Rescue

4. Don't Work With Those Who Don't Follow Through

Have you ever dealt with recruiters who get in touch, sound excited about potential fit, but never follow up? Yep, those guys are not professionals. Everyone's busy, but if a recruiter doesn't follow through with you after reaching out, it's a sign that their work is sloppy, they don't have their stuff together, and the quality of the job and company pitched to you is likely also not quite up to snuff. - Yuri KrumanMaster The Talk Consulting

5. Vet The Recruiter

In any geography and niche, there are hundreds of recruiters at your disposal. Recruiters are paid on placements. Vet your recruiters to ensure they are a good match for your skill set. How many placements do they make in your niche and desired geography? If you feel they are a good fit, build a relationship and be easy to do business with. If they can place you, they will work hard to do so. - Dina SimonSimon Says Lead

6. Just Avoid Recruiters In General

I tell my transition clients to not waste their time hunting for recruiters. The fastest way to find a high-quality job offer is through networking with the people you know. - Mary Legakis EngelThe Management Coach

7. Align Expectations And Requirements

Keep in mind that recruiters work for employers; not job seekers. This means recognizing false promises of job "guarantees," rapid success, or high availability. In addition, always ask for an outline of a recruiter's experience working with your industry or occupation. If they don't have access to a network that is well-aligned with your job search needs, they aren't the right match for you. - Adrienne Tom, CERM, CPRW, MCRSCareer Impressions

8. Know If They Understand Your Strengths, Values And Purpose

When leveraging recruiters in your job search, look for someone who isn’t just filling the proverbial round hole with an octagon-shaped peg. You need a recruiter capable of identifying your strengths, values and purpose and aligning them with the companies they serve. Best case scenario: A recruiter with enough integrity will say, “I'm sorry, I just don’t have the right fit for you right now.” - Mark S. BabbittYouTern

9. Determine If The Recruiter Is Genuinely Interested In You

A recruiter's level of interest in the candidate can be determined from conversations with the recruiter. If the recruiter seems disengaged, hurried, is not answering questions, not helping the candidate push their application forward, not responding, it is a clear sign that the recruiter has other priorities, other people, or other projects. Stay clear of such recruiters and move on to the next one. - Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching

10. Gauge Their Ethics

The most important quality is that a recruiter is ethical. While recruiters are often paid based on the seniority of candidates and volume of placements, ethical recruiters are motivated to invest the time to build relationships and make placements that are a fit for both sides. If the recruiter rushes to put you in a job, runs hot and cold, or is not discreet, these are red flags to avoid. - Anne Marie SegalSegal Coaching

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Yuri Kruman

Yuri Kruman is a trusted career, business and life coach and professional strategist based in New York. As Member of the Forbes Career Council and CEO / Founder of Master The Talk Career Success Consulting, he has helped clients of all career stages, industries and job markets around the world (and all around the U.S.) to chart a clear path in their careers, building confidence and understanding along the way.

Since 2013, he’s shared his expertise and empowered people with the knowledge they need to find, compete for and win their dream jobs, revamping their résumé, acing that interview and negotiating for the title and salary they deserve. 

He has worked with and consulted for seemingly every sector of the professional world, from tech startups to multinational banks, pharmaceutical companies, law and academia—experience he now brings to help individuals set clear goals toward career advancement. 

Yuri has helped build venture-backed health tech startups (Maxwell Health, Liazon, Baby Doctor), consulted large banks and hedge funds (Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Fortress Investment Group), as well as worked in law (various large law firms) and academia (NYU).

Yuri is likewise a well-published author and health tech entrepreneur. He's been featured on Inc., Fast Company, BBC, Time, PBS, Thought Catalog, Lifehack.org, WorkAwesome and CareerHeads. Yuri blogs on careers, consumer psychology, health and productivity at BlueprintToThrive.com. He has worked in healthcare, finance and law.

He has spoken at General Assembly, The Muse, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, among others. 

Yuri has published two novels of fiction, poetry and various essays and op-eds. He lives with his wife and two children in New York.